It’s no secret: since the Republicans won control of the Congress and, especially, since George Bush became President, universal health care coverage and occupational safety and health regulation have been low priorities in American politics. If you care about these things – and we know most of you do – you have to be looking forward to 2007 with some hope and expectation.

No, the Democrats will not be a panacea, but their election does mean that these issues can once again rise to the top of the nation’s agenda where they can be thoroughly debated. From that, perhaps, some new solutions can be found.

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LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck

Addressing the issue of health coverage, the LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck says, “On the domestic front, nothing is more important for our country than finding a way to provide every American with health insurance. The growing ranks of the uninsured are a financial as well as a health crisis, and union companies and their workers are bearing a disproportionate share of the costs. A lot of ideas for reform are on the table. Our political leaders need to sort through them and get the nation started in a new direction. The basic principle must be universal coverage.”

At the same time, Borck stresses the importance of strengthening protections for occupational safety and health. “The nation has drifted into an increasingly laissez faire approach to workplace safety. But without regulation and enforcement to create a level playing field, some ruthless contractors will cut corners and endanger workers’ lives to maximize their profits. Non-union and immigrant workers, especially, suffer as a result. Our nation’s regulatory agencies – OSHA and the EPA, in particular – need to reassert their role in safeguarding workers and communities.”

In their initial comments, many of the Democrats elected last fall say they appreciate the need to address these fundamental concerns. The LHSFNA welcomes the opening.

That’s the big picture for 2007 – hope and possibility, but a need to remain vigilant and energetic. The LHSFNA promises to do its part.

On a personal level, too, we all have work to do. First of all, we have to take care of our health. Schedule your annual health exam and follow your doctor’s recommendations. Improve your lifestyle habits – get to and maintain a healthy weight, exercise, quit smoking and control your alcohol intake. If you get sick, see your doctor and avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room. At work, pay close attention to health and safety concerns. Help establish a collaborative, labor-management committee to enhance workplace safety.

On this New Year’s Day, 2007 looks like a promising year. Here at the LHSFNA we’re going to do everything we can to help it deliver. We urge you to do the same, and we wish you and your family the very best in the year to come.

[Steve Clark]